Horses at the Half Century of Progress

The Half Century of Progress wasn’t all about machinery; it was also about horse power.  Jim Buzzard of Beecher City, Illinois was at the show with his Haflinger horses that pulled a John Deere two-bottom plow. He chose this beautiful breed he said, “I like the Haflinger size and their nature.  They are probably the smallest of the draft horses.  I like to plow with six, I like a multiple hitch.”

Horses are literally in Jim’s blood.  “I have had horses for 25 years,” he said.  “My grandpa got me into horses and mules.  He mostly had mules.

Jim enjoys sharing his horses.  He said he attends about 25 events a year.  “These events are good.  I go to about five or six states, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas, and Indiana and of course Illinois.”

At the Half Century Jim and his Haflingers was a part of the great plow extravaganza.  “Yesterday we plowed all day.  The ground pulled so hard we had to have a tractor plow and disk it first.”

“I enjoy driving and working the field,” Jim said.

Next to Jim and his Haflingers was Les Riddle of Leroy, Illinois.  Les had his Percheron mare named Rose with him at the Half Century of Progress. “I have had her for several years,” Les said.  “She is 17 years old I got her when she was about two.”

Like Jim, Les has been using horses for most of his life.  “My father didn’t farm very much, so he didn’t buy a tractor until I was ten.  We had a neighbor plow then we planted with horses.  I was the weed puller I had to get the weeds out.”

Besides the legacy of farming with horses in his childhood, Les also has memories of his grandfather with horses as well.  “My grandfather made his living with draft horses.  He was from Minier, Illinois.  He furnished the freight haulers in Chicago’s livestock yards and he sold horses in Ohio.  I think because of the Amish population.  He sold horses in Ohio for 40 years.  He shipped a carload a month from 1900 to 1940. That was the big era of the draft horse.  His name was Leslie and his son was a Less.  I am named after him.”

Besides Rose, Les said he has another grey mare and a stallion.  “I have sold horses all over the country.  For years we broke horses then trained them.  My granddaughter still loves horses today.  It was a good project and kept my grandson and granddaughter busy.”

Horses brought memories of early farming days and if the visitors took a minute or two to talk to Jim or Les, they learned a lot about horse teams and plowing with draft horses.


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